Pure Public Goods versus Commons: Benefit-Cost Duality

Todd Sandler and Daniel G. Arce M.


This paper utilizes benefit-cost duality to differentiate the problems associated with a pure public good from the problems associated with a commons. For the public good scenario, contributors’ benefits are public or available to all, while provision costs impact only the contributor. In a commons, crowding costs are public, while benefits affect only the user. Although both problems possess the same game form for their canonical representations, collective-action implications differ: for example, the relative positions of the Nash equilibrium and Pareto optimum, the form of the exploitation hypothesis, and the need for selective incentives or punishments. (JEL H41, D70)

This article requires a subscription to view the full text. If you have a subscription you may use the login form below to view the article. Access to this article can also be purchased.

Purchase access

You may purchase access to this article. This will require you to create an account if you don't already have one.